The first Buddhist Lama in Britain, who is leading the project to create a new Buddhist centre in the Highlands of Scotland said the famous Loch Ness monster is a naga, a water deity which brings prosperity in the religion, according to a news report in The Scotsman .
The Loch Ness monster is an unknown animal that some people believe inhabits Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Popular interest and belief in the animal’s existence has varied since it was first brought to the world’s attention in 1933, and made famous by a photograph supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson in 1934, depicted below. Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with minimal and much-disputed photographic material and sonar readings.
The most common speculation among believers is that the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs, a Mesozoic marine reptile. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately known as ‘Nessie’, as a modern-day myth, and explains sightings as including misidentifications of more mundane objects, outright hoaxes, and wishful thinking. However, spiritual director of the new Buddhist centre in the Highlands, Lama Gelongmo Zangmo, has another explanation:
“Nessie is a naga. We build the relationship with the naga, try to please them and don’t abuse the environment,” said Lama Zangmo. “If Nessie is treated well, she will bring prosperity.”
The naga is a legendary aquatic, serpentine creature that resides in oceans, rivers, lakes, or waterfalls. Nagas are said to have black scales and can grow to hundreds of feet in length. Nagas are traditionally worshipped as personifications of water deities and considered bringers of rain and clouds. They are guardians of temples and holy places. Most Kaliyatran believe that the superior God direct the actions of the nagas, and these sea serpents are honoured with many titles such as the “Maharaja Sarpa” and the “Naga who is God”. It is commonly believed that nagas live in underground cities, are capable of speech and can use their heavenly powers to control weather and assume humanoid form at will.
Tributes have already been made at the Samye Ling monastery in Dumfries-shire, and a shelter has been made at the nearby River Esk, where sacrifices have been left to the spirit. Dr William Tuladhar-Douglas, Buddhism lecturer from the University of Aberdeen, said: “There’s about 2,500 years’ worth of history behind a gesture like that.”
Featured image: A depiction of naga. Image source .